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HomeCommunity StoriesNavigating LGBTQIA+ Coming Out Challenges in Nigeria: My Story

Navigating LGBTQIA+ Coming Out Challenges in Nigeria: My Story

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Welcome to my blog, Lerion Jake Nwauda! I know you must be wondering what my blog is about, and I invite you to check it out at https://lerionjakenwauda.blog/. Today, I want to share with you my coming-out story. Others have told their stories of struggles and success of being LGBTQIA in Nigeria and their home country. However, I want to give you a glimpse of my experience.

You see, my life wasn’t always sweet, and coming out as gay was a touching experience for me.

"Please find below a video recording of my article, in case you are unable to read the entire written piece. The video serves as an alternative means of accessing the content, allowing viewers to easily consume the material through a visual medium. This approach may be particularly helpful for those who prefer to learn through listening and watching rather than reading."

My Life in Nigeria Before Coming Out.

Growing up in a highly religious family, I never imagined that I would one day come out as gay. But as I got older and began to understand my own feelings and identity, I knew that I couldn’t continue to hide who I am. It was a difficult decision to come out, and I struggled with depression and even attempted suicide as a result of my struggles with my identity.

When I entered secondary school years ago, I attended a boarding school where I was initially disliked by many of my peers because I reported them for breaking school rules and regulations. They stopped serving certain foods as punishment for the whole school, which made them hate me even more. I received punishment and lashes for even the smallest infractions, and I often felt alone and isolated. However, I did have one close friend who helped me through this difficult time, until he left the school the following term. From then on, I felt completely alone and isolated, and I even started to have imaginary friends and talk to animals. I was often alone during meals and on the way to class, and no one seemed to want to associate with me. When I told my mother that I didn’t want to go back to school, she was devastated, as she believed that the school was prestigious and had a good reputation. Despite my struggles, I continued to attend school and tried my best to fit in. However, I was constantly bullied and mistreated because of my sexual orientation. I was even accused of making advances to a guy who didn’t consent, and I was treated and beaten like a criminal. These experiences made me feel even more alone and depressed, and I struggled to find any sense of belonging or acceptance. Things became so bad that I started hearing voices telling me to end my life and giving me many reasons to do so. I even began to plan how to die. I drank substances used to kill animals and pests, but it didn’t work. One night, after a dramatic incident in the hostel related to my sexuality, I decided to end it all. After lights out, I snuck out of the hostel to the dining hall, looking for knives. I spent the whole night searching, but to no avail. I slept outside of the hostel, only to be woken up by the generator at 5 a.m. I began searching again and finally found a knife. I decided to go to the chapel to say my last prayers, but on my way to the spot where I would take my life, a fellow student spotted me and ran towards me, calling my name and saying that they had been looking for me throughout the hostel. I ran, not looking back until he caught up with me. I stopped and drew the knife toward me, piercing my skin, and said that if he came closer, I would slip it in. More people, including the head chef of the school, came out and begged me. After much pleading, I don’t know why, but my mind was convinced, and I dropped the knife. They took me to the sick bay to be given first aid, and I went through a series of counseling sessions. I thought that was the end of it, but the bullying and mistreatment continued.

The Great Escape

One night, after prep, I was dared by my roommates to see if I could jump the protected fence of the school. I took my Bible, knife, and torch and left the school. I successfully passed the security guards and made my way to the fence. I climbed and jumped, but there was a huge ditch in front of me. Luckily, I didn’t fall into it. I started walking in a dark, lonely place, heading towards the path we took while bringing me to school. I walked for 15 miles without a single glimmer of light until I spotted a light.

"Please find below a video recording of my article, in case you are unable to read the entire written piece. The video serves as an alternative means of accessing the content, allowing viewers to easily consume the material through a visual medium. This approach may be particularly helpful for those who prefer to learn through listening and watching rather than reading." 
A Helping Hand

I came to a hotel and told them I had escaped school and explained everything that had happened. They called my mother at 2 a.m. in the middle of the night and told her. She begged them to let me stay and said she would come to get me. They agreed, and the hotel was called the Jay Crown Hotel in Ibnonwon Epe, Lagos, Nigeria. After escaping from school, I was eventually brought home by my hostel masters. They had to verify their identity at the hotel before I was allowed to leave with them. I was terrified and almost said that I didn’t know them, but something made me say that I did.

Facing the Consequences

They brought me back to the hostel and kept me under their supervision until the morning. I was taken to the principal, who I think had a fondness for me because of my talent. She asked me why I ran away, and I told her the whole truth. Normally, she would have expelled me for being gay, but for reasons unknown to me, she didn’t. Instead, she asked if I wanted to go home, and I said yes. I was about to take my final exams to enter senior high school, but she said I could come back and write my junior WAEC. They dropped me off at home and refunded my school fees because it was just the beginning of the term.

Coming Out to My Mother

When I returned home, my mother looked at me in disappointment, but she didn’t know my sexuality yet because the school never told her I was gay. Despite her disappointment, I know that she loves me and wants what’s best for me.

"Please find below a video recording of my article, in case you are unable to read the entire written piece. The video serves as an alternative means of accessing the content, allowing viewers to easily consume the material through a visual medium. This approach may be particularly helpful for those who prefer to learn through listening and watching rather than reading."


As I reminisce on my past, I can trace my attraction to guys back to my childhood. However, I never understood why I felt different and like an outsider. I tried praying for a change but to no avail. Despite never lusting over any guy, I had a deep affection for them that I couldn’t explain. I had two best friends growing up; the first was my childhood friend, whom I loved so much that I became jealous when he was around other guys. I still can’t remember how we drifted apart. My other best friend, Calbar, was straight as an arrow. I remember feeling jealous when he started cheating on me with someone else, even though it was only in my thoughts. He also used me to get things, and that was how we parted ways. I’d like to remain anonymous about my last best friend, with whom I still communicate. When we had a fight, it was like any other couple’s fight, but we made up and remained friends.

When I came back home after school, I stayed for six months before joining a private school, where I wrote my Junior WAEC. Unfortunately, someone suspected that I was gay and made advances towards me by text, which I fell for. He only wanted to confirm my sexuality, but then he threatened to expose me in school, and I couldn’t bear the shame. I made up excuses and caused a commotion that made my parents change schools. At that time, I had severe anger issues.

In my new school, SS1, I started afresh, but it didn’t last long because my anger issues got the better of me, and I ended up in a non-peaceful dialogue with one of my teachers. I didn’t want to continue, so I changed schools again, but this time, it was a public school. I wrote my final exam, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, and that marked the end of my academic journey.

The Decision to Come Out

Through someone I met on Grindr, I came across an NGO that helped me embrace my sexuality. Being around members of the community made me feel like myself. Although I started accepting my sexuality in 2020, I wasn’t very open about it. Despite not being fully accepting of my sexuality, I still received threats. The incident that eventually led me to come out as gay occurred on November 11, 2021, when I was “kitoed.” In Nigeria, the term “kito” refers to an individual who pretends to be gay in order to dehumanize, extort and even murder LGBTQ+ people. After my friend was “kitoed,” the perpetrators used his Facebook account to chat with me and invite me over. Despite my initial reservations, I went to meet them.

Upon arriving, the motorcycle rider was unfamiliar with the address, so some individuals stopped me and inquired if I was searching for “Musa.” When I asked if I knew them, they informed me that I had been conversing with Musa and called me derogatory names for being gay. I retaliated by slapping them, which drew attention to the scene, and a man in his forties who appeared to be the group’s leader approached me. He pulled me aside and revealed that I had already been “kitoed” and should call someone to bail me out.

Although hesitant, the group showed me a police number and threatened to call the police and have me incarcerated for 14 years if I did not comply. They also claimed that the entire community would strip and beat me. Fearful, I contacted an NGO I was affiliated with, but they requested that I share my location, which I was unable to do because I lacked a smartphone. When I revealed my location, one of my abusers struck me. They warned me not to disclose my whereabouts. After phoning several of my contacts, one agreed to transfer 10,000 naira. However, they did not want to use their own money and searched for alternatives. It was raining heavily that day, and we roamed for hours. I grew tired and hungry and told them that I would faint if I did not eat. They decided to find a location to cook my noodles. After consuming the noodles, I blacked out and do not recall what occurred. When I regained consciousness, I was on a bus, feeling disoriented. I was unaware of how I had gotten there or boarded the bus. Everyone was worried about me, and when the driver inquired about my destination, I informed him. Passengers traveling in the same direction called my mother, and she came to pick me up at the designated bus stop. She instructed them to drop me off with her. When I arrived home, I ate, but still had no recollection of what had happened that day. I woke up thinking it was a dream. you can check out the video here

The traumatic experience of being kidnapped and forced to come out as gay was a difficult and overwhelming situation for me. However, I found the strength and courage to do so, even though it meant facing potential discrimination and challenges. I shared my story with a YouTube channel that fights against the injustice of “kitoing” to help others become aware of the hazards and to be cautious. My story has also aided in raising awareness about the issue of “kitoing” and the difficulties faced by LGBTQ+ people in Nigeria.



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